I started scouts when I was 12. I was a very shy and reserved child and one particular leader, man in his mid 50s, took me under his wing and made me feel much more at ease with joining the group.
The grooming began pretty much immediately as he spoke to my parents regularly and formed a close bond with me and my family both in and outside of scouts. He used to give me lifts to various different scouting activities and would start with holding my hand, telling me I am pretty. It then started to get more sexual as he complimented me on my breasts and my behind. When I was 13 he would then take me on ‘dates’ at the local cafe and would give me money and ask I didn’t mention it to anyone. He would invite me round to his house where I would eat dinner with his wife and children as he rubbed my upper leg under the table. He would tell me about other women he was sleeping with and was extremely graphic about their sexual encounters. He made me watch pornography with him whilst we were in his car as he masturbated and made me touch myself in front of him, I was still only 13.
The grooming and abuse continued as I carried on attending scouts. I had fallen in love with scouting, I loved sailing and I really enjoyed summer camps. I felt like I would be letting everyone down if I came out and told people about the abuse. When I was 15 I was a big tennis fan and was vocal with him about my love for Wimbledon. I told him it was always a dream of mine to go one year. Disguising it as a “scouts trip” He booked us a hotel room to go to Wimbledon just after my 16th birthday.
Looking back, I can see exactly what was going to happen had I gone along with the trip. I met my boyfriend (now husband) 3 weeks before this trip was supposed to go ahead. I told him everything about my leader and he urged me to go to the police and the scouting association. It came as a shock to me as I was so unbelievably brainwashed I didn’t see anything wrong with his behaviour. To me, he was my friend and my parents trusted him so what could be wrong?
The story gets worse as I remember sitting with the group leader and having him shake his head and tell me I must have got something wrong and there was no way that he would do this. He was eventually told to leave scouting, however, nearly 10 years on I regularly pass my old scout group and see his car parked out there. I just hope to god some other young girl hasn’t fallen in his trap.